Draft National Environmental Health Policy

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Malawi Government
The Malawi Government is concerned about the high disease burden the country is experiencing. Most of these diseases are attributable to avoidable environmental risk factors. Malaria accounts for about 48% of all causes of morbidity followed by Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI) and diarrheal diseases at 17% and 8.7% respectively (HMIS08). The Ministry of Health has set out most of these as priority diseases in the Essential Health Care Package. The challenge therefore is how to reduce the disease burden through environmental health interventions. Environmental health encompasses the assessment and control of all physical, chemical and biological factors that can potentially affect the health of individuals. It is targeted towards preventing diseases and creating a health supportive environment. The Malawi Government adopted a National Environmental Health policy in 2011 in order to provide guidance on implementation of environmental health interventions. The policy ought to achieve the following: To increase the coverage of environmental health interventions in Malawi. To increase public awareness of environmental health issues in Malawi. To improve coordination and collaboration between various stakeholders in the implementation of environmental health interventions. The policy has been developed in line with international declarations which Malawi is a signatory and these are: Libreville Declaration on Health and Environment, held in Libreville in 2008, Ethekwini Declaration on Hygiene and Sanitation, 2008, Africa Health Strategy (of the African Union), 2007-2015, UN Millennium Declaration and subsequent Millennium Development Goals, 2000, Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992 and the Alma-Ata Declaration on Primary Health Care, 1972. Environmental health activities are being implemented in the country by different partners. The activities have been implemented without proper guidance and direction. This even affected monitoring of the services since there was no standard for implementation of the activities. The policy has set out the core functions of environmental health which should guide every institution: Governmental or Non governmental that is implementing such services at all levels. It is my sincere hope that all stakeholders in the country will use this policy in order to contribute to the reduction of disease burden thereby improving MDGs 4, 6 and 7 and also the poverty levels and economic development in the country.